Friday, May 10, 2013

Confession Time...

 I have a confession to make.

First let me reassure you that this confession does not involve an admission of a drunken relapse, consisting of a night or two of partying with my former bff, Alexander Keith. It might be worse than that...

Hold on to your (free from the last race) running hat and promise me you will read on for a full explanation after I drop the bomb! Place your left hand on your running shoes and swear to me that you will not judge me until you have read my last word!

At the end of March I began working with a running coach. My objective in putting him in charge of my training was mostly to find a better way to train. I found that I didnt have enough physical power to support my will, perseverance and desire to be better. I also have very little patience for taking the long way to my goals. These pesky realities have served me injury, after injury on a silver platter, and there is no glass of wine to wash them down with.

Injuries halt progress and leave you starting over, which takes time and I already mentioned, I dont have the patience for that. I am sober because I run, so when I am sidelined, I get anxious that my old coping strategies (which consisted of beer) are only a twist top away. The sooner I can run the better I feel.

My coach, Greg, made a lengthy assessment of everything about me that related to running. When he came up with the plan, he cautioned me more than once that I needed to focus on my long term goals and be smart about my workouts (I'm getting close to the confession). This is where Greg presented me with the schedule and explanation of what I would be doing for the coming weeks.

Since the end of March I have been running using the heart rate approach developed by Phil Maffetone known as Maximum Aerobic Function or MAF training. This means I have been running with a heart rate monitor and I am stricken to maintain my heart rate to 135 beats/min.  Please repeat that sentence to yourself and let it sink in, take a drink if you need to and please have one for me too. Can you imagine how slowly I am running? I can't even crack 7km in 60mins. Take a moment and let that resonate...

Let me help you understand. I got passed by a walker, the other day. My Grandma can run faster than me right now. A crawling baby could lap me.

I have spent time encouraging others to run. I advise anyone that holds the belief that being slow is a bad thing, that it doesnt matter how fast you go, it just matters that you go. I have authored blog posts that in black and white outline my ideas that its not important how long it takes to run anywhere, just run. Here's the confession...

I am a  big, giant, lousy HYPOCRITE.

I believe that speed doesn't matter...for everyone else. I apparently don't hold myself accountable to that mantra. The day the white haired lady with the obvious double knee replacements and the "let's get physical" sweatband overtook me, I will be honest and say I picked up the pace despite my nagging Garmin alerting me that my heart rate was over the limit. In that moment, I let my pride win and left the oldie in my dust.

 The people in my neighborhood are aware that I run and that I like to race. Many of them have been curious enough at times to ask me what I do and how I do it. They seem to think I am awesome and amazing for doing all the running I do. These days, when I am approaching their yards and I see them out working away, I have to pick up the pace as I pass by because I don't want them to reconsider their previous assessment of my awesomeness. I am embarrassed to be seen running so slowly.

Lastly, I have found it impossible to run at a snail's pace when I am passing by a construction site. Enough said on that one.

There is extreme value in the training I am doing and that is why I continue doing what Greg has palnned for me, beyond these little incidents of ego driven disobedience. Along with the MAF running I have been doing, strength and flexibility excercises and cross training fill the rest of the plan. I am rebuilding to be stronger, faster and more patient for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.

I am very happy I chose to work with Greg. In June, he assures me the speed work will begin, in which case I may wish for the days of the slow easy run.

In summary, it's okay for you to run slowly, as long as you are up off your couch and running, how far and how fast are unimportant. No one looks at you and thinks any thing other than, "good for her/him". Unfortunately, I am having a hard go off accepting my own advice.


  1. Thanks for trusting the plan - I'd feel worse about asking you to do this if I wasn't doing the same thing myself and finding great results in getting healthy while building a strong base. Running slowly (for now) isn't just about the difference between running and sitting on the couch, it's about the difference between being patient and investing for the long-term versus seeking short term gains through killer workouts that, while looking good for the day, don't get you to your ultimate destination because of the setbacks they set up.

    1. I know...I get it, but come on, tell me you don't pick up the pace a bit when running by a group of women! :)